Showing posts from November, 2009

Zapari Junga Junga - bird park and more

Zapari/JungaJunga is located in the heart of the Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv.  It is a small bird park (though the largest in the Middle East) that contains all sorts of birds and small reptiles. There are areas where one can touch, hold and feed the animals.  In other areas, the birds are displayed among waterfalls and trees. And, of course, there are bird shows.  At the end of the bird park, there is a large shaded area that contains lots of inflatables and climbing structures.  The play area contains a snack bar and plenty of seats for parents.  Between the bird park and the play area, my kids were happy to spend an entire afternoon at Zapari and JungaJunga.   It is an ideal place to take the children (up to the age of ten or eleven) on a hot summer afternoon.  And, of course, one can wander around Yarkon Park afterwards.
Zapari/JungaJunga - Yarkon Park, Tel Aviv - 03-642-2888

Meat and Wine - A Masterpiece!

I have not been to Meat and Wine in several months, but each time I go back there I am reminded just how good the food is.  I had my usual favorites - the tuna tartare appetizer and the hamburger.  Though, my dinner partners had other dishes that were just as excellent.  The restaurant can get very crowded, reservations must be made quite in advance and the signature beef ribs have not been offered for several months now, but in the end this is one place where the meal will never disappoint. 
Meat and Wine - 16 Shenkar Street, Herzilya Pituach - 09-956-7006

Manara Cliff/Tzuk Manara

Manara Cliff (TzukManara) is one of those places that will not impress those of you who, like me, are used to the big adventure places of America; but it certainly has its appeal and will please the children. Located near KiryatShemona, Manara Cliff boasts the longest cable car in Israel, a zip-line, an omega and rappelling. All of the activities are on somewhat of a small scale and so will not necessarily take long to do. I am not sure that it will keep the family busy for an entire day nor would I drive up north solely to go there. However, Manara Cliff, which is set among the beautiful mountains of the North, can certainly provide several hours of fun for the family.
Manara Cliff - Kibbutz Manara near KiryatShemona - - 04-690-5830

Beit Shearim - Israel's Catacombs

BeitShearim is an ancient Jewish town located in the Western Galilee.  What makes BeitShearim fascinating is the several combs that contain burial chambers and coffins reached through corridors, steps and courtyards.  There are carved reliefs, inscriptions and paintings contained throughout the caves.  My children did not appreciate the site as much as I did, but I believe that with the proper tour guide, this place could come alive for children as well.  Also be sure to stop at KiryatTivon, a lovely town located nearby.
BeitShearim - 04-983-1643-  to make the most of the visit arrange for a guided tour
TIP:  BeitShearim is part of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.  If the entire family is visiting, it may be worthwhile to purchase a yearly family membership which entitles the family to free admission at all the sites that make up the Authority.

Ayalon Institute (Bullet Factory)

The Ayalon Institute, located near the science park of Rechovot, was established in 1945 by the Haganah in its fight against the British. Located beneath a kibbutz, the Ayalon Institute served as a bullet factory producing over two million bullets between the years of 1946 and 1948.  It is a fascinating place with lots of amazing stories.  Somehow this historical site seems to be under the radar in terms of publicity but it is an extremely worthwhile place to visit, especially for school age children and above. Tours are by appointment only and are with guides.  There are both English and Hebrew tours.
Ayalon Institute - Rechovot - 08-940-6522


Even if Aresto Cafe and Restaurant would not offer fabulous brick oven pizza or gnocchi that melts in your mouth, it would still be a worthwhile stop - where else can one sit among ancient antiquities while steps away from the beach?  Aresto is located in the Caesarea port and is literally set among the ancient Roman walls.  The port itself has been completely renovated so on a nice night, an after-dinner stroll is a must.  The service at Aresto can be spotty and while the fish menu is extensive it is nothing extraordinary (I would stick to the pizzas and pastas); but come on a nice spring day or a cool summer evening, order a nice glass of wine and a pasta and pizza, and sit back and relax.  Life cannot get better.
Aresto Cafe/Restaurant - Caesarea Port - 04-636-3456 Reservations in the evening are strongly recommended.

Beit Aronson and a Day in Zichron Yaakov

BeitAaronson is one of those small historical sites that are hidden gems. The Aaronson family members were part of "NILI" - the Jewish underground movement that helped the British fight against the Turkish occupation of Palestine during World War I.  Without revealing too much, the Aaronson family story has become legendary.  Part of the premises has been preserved as the original home with the remainder converted into a museum.  A visit to the museum will take about an hour.  Once done, you can stroll down Hameyasdim street, the main street in ZichronYaakov, which is filled with lots of cafes and small shops.
BeitAaronson - 40 Hameyasim Street, ZichronYaakov - 04-639-0120 Tours are generally offered every hour on the half hour BUT call in advance as there are often group bookings.  English tours can be arranged.

Tishbi Winery

A couple of years ago my mother and I wanted to go on a wine tour but needed something not too far. Tishbi Winery has a winery in Binyamina where guided tours can be arranged, either in Hebrew or English. Because the location is slightly off the beaten track, the tours, especially during off-season, tend to be small and intimate. We actually were given a private tour followed by a wine tasting. It was a lot of fun and more personalized than some of the other winery tours which are more commercialized and impersonal. And there is a cafe located on the premises where one can have a lovely meal before or after the tour.
Tishbi Winery - - 04-638-0434

Mey Kedem Water Tunnel

The Romans built a complex water system stretching from the EinTzabirin Springs to the aqueducts in Caesarea. A network of canals, tunnels, clay pipes and aqueducts transported the water from the springs (23 km. northeast of the city) to the city port. Mei Kedem is one of those sites; visitors can now explore a 280-meter stretch of a 6-km. tunnel in Alona Park which is right near Binyamina and ZichronYaakov. There is a small film beforehand (in English upon request) followed by a guided tour of the water tunnel. Flashlights and water shoes are required and a change of clothing is recommended. The experience takes about an hour. Kids will love it!
Mey Kedem - Alona Park - 04-638-8622 -

Mark Morris Dance Group - CULTURE ALERT

Mark Morris Dance Group, a United States modern dance troupe, has scheduled several nights of performances in the Tel Aviv opera house.  The first performance takes place on December 29th. I do not know much about this particular dance group but what interested me is that the group only performs to live music; therefore, a group of musicians will be accompanying the dance group.   In general, I find the caliber of dance in this country to be poor so I always run to see the performances of visiting dance groups that perform internationally.  Also, I have yet to attend a dance performance here in Israel that was accompanied with live music. Having grown up on dance performances at Lincoln Center where the orchestra is a pivotal component, I am excited to hear the live music that will accompany the performance.  Now if I could only figure out a way to convince the New York City Ballet to come perform here, I would be all set!
Tel Aviv Opera House - 19 ShaulHamelech Street, Tel Aviv To orde…

Palmach Museum

The Palmach Museum tells the story of the Palmach, the underground military organization of Jewish fighters, from the time of World War Two through the end of the War of Independence. Unlike traditional museums, there are no cases and displays of artifacts and documents. Rather, one is lead from room to room as the story of a specific (fictional) unit is told through 3-D visuals - lights, noise, film, etc.  I know that certain people feel that it is way too commercial and kitschy.  I would agree that the experience lacks the feeling of authenticity but the technique mentions to keep one's attention and be moving and powerful.  It can also be scary so I recommend this only for older children.
Palmach Museum - 10 Haim Levanon Street, Tel Aviv - 03-643-6393.  Because groups are guided from room to room you need a reservation to enter.

Atlit Detention Camp

I visited the Atlit Detention Camp a few years back and found it to be a very informative and moving experience.   Atlit is where the British detained Jews who illegally entered Palestine while fleeing Europe during World War II.  There is a newly acquired ship on the grounds.  Other than that, the structures are pretty much as they were back in 1945.  In addition, there is an information center and an interesting film.  Older children can gain a lot from the experience.  I strongly suggest arranging a guided tour to make the visit worthwhile.
Atltit Detention Camp - Atlit (situated between Netanya and Haifa off of Road Number 2) - 04-984-1980 - CALL IN ADVANCE

Bayit Bagalil

I have been to the Carmel Spa several times and I understand the appeal for many.  However, if one wants a true getaway that is intimate and cozy, Bayit Bagalil located in the northern town of Hatzor Haglilit is the place to go.  It is much smaller with only 26 rooms; it has the feel of a true bed and breakfast rather than a large hotel. Price includes dinner and breakfast (which is more than enough food).  Breakfast is generally buffet but dinner is sit-down style with waiters.  There is a pool, lovely patio areas and a comfortable living room with a fireplace.  There is a small spa on the premises but the choice of spa treatments are limited and fairly ordinary.  This is not the place to come if you want excellent spa services, huge grounds or lots of activity (the Carmel Spa would be the place for that).  But if you want to be away from it all with nothing to do but read a good book, relax, and hang out with a significant other, this is the place for you.
Bayit Bagalil - 04-680-8200 …

Topolino tops the charts

A couple of weeks ago our friends in Jerusalem took us to Topolino, a small dairy cafe located right outside Mahane Yehudah.  It has been a long time since I left a restaurant beyond stuffed but wanting to eat more.  The ambience is nothing extraordinary - it is a small space where diners are basically on top of each other. But the food is outstanding. The waiter was beyond helpful in his suggestions.  There were lots of interesting variety among the starters, the pastas and the fish. And all are excellent and fresh.  Of course, dessert is outstanding. Finally, do not forego the coffee.  After a cup, I realized what truly outstanding coffee is.
Topolino - 62 Agrippas Street - 02-662-3466  - reservations for dinner are a must